Acute stress disorder normally develops within one month of a person being exposed to a traumatic event. It does not necessarily have to be a personal experience, it can occur if a person has witnessed something traumatic happening to another individual. Events that could cause this are an attack, the threat of serious injury, a natural disaster or being a witness to the death of someone else.

The natural reaction of any human being to such a traumatic event is the mind and body go into a state of shock. The person feels dazed, and in a disoriented state. They experience a feeling of intense helplessness, that they were somehow unable to do anything to stop the event from happening. These feelings tend to dissipate after a few days, when they do not then the person is suffering from Acute Stress Disorder.

The symptoms vary from person to person, but in general those suffering from the condition can experience a feeling of detachment, severe anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, emotional distance, irritability and amnesia regarding certain facts about the actual event. They may suffer flashbacks, as well as nightmares.
Acute Stress Disorder significantly impacts on a person’s day to day life. It causes them real distress and an inability to function as they normally would. It affects their sleep, their work, and their general social interaction.